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My Blogiversary post for 2021

It was 23 July 2012 when I published my first blog post on Sue’s Considered Trifles. I have not added any new material to that blog for some time, but it could be useful to writers wishing to know which phrases were in use in the second half of the 20th century.

Tomorrow will be 23 July 2021, so that marks 9 years of more-or-less regular blogging. Sue’s Trifles, which has become my main blog, is a bit younger having its first post on 25 March 2013. I chose the theme Pachyderm for reasons I explained here. It is perhaps a little twee. Should I change it?

At first my posts were written in response to daily prompts from WordPress, but these were discontinued. Since 2013 I have taken part in the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge every year and in 2016 I also completed the challenge on Sue’s words and pictures, which I began in March 2015. My first post is here.

My What’s new page lists all my writing adventures, if adventures is not too exciting a word for my exploits!

Nine years is a long time and my off-line interests have changed gradually as time has gone on. My favourite games are now Rummikub and Triominoes, with Scrabble and Upwords demoted to occasional use. Even before the pandemic I had stopped going to the craft group, the reading group and an embroidery group, which may all have been mentioned here on Sue’s Trifles.

I am far more involved with social media now than I ever imagined would be the case. When I began blogging, I was unaware that it was social media and that I’d make online friends among people in various countries, who also blog.

My first reviews of books I read appeared on Sue’s Considered Trifles as a page or pages. Gradually book reviews have become the major part of my blogging activities. If you had told my 10-year-old self that this would be the case, she would have been incredulous. Having to write a review of every book read and to queue up to show the review to the teacher before being allowed to choose another book, led me to choose the thickest book on the shelf in the classroom! (Writing and queuing stole valuable reading time.)

I try to include occasional craft posts and faith posts, or reflective posts such as this one for those readers, who perhaps followed Sue’s Trifles after reading posts in those categories. I am currently rereading the psalms, attempting to keep up with another blogger, who tweets every day. A few years ago I joined in with his #psalmtweets.

Lockdown has affected both Sue’s Trifles, where Paint Chip Poems have become a regular feature, and Sue’s words and pictures, where photo challenges have provided a source of inspiration rather than outings to places of interest. At the time of writing a few posts of local interest are in the pipeline and one has been published already.

As restrictions are lifted in the UK, I am spending more time outside the home – if only in the garden! In fact gardening is seasonal. I have returned to my voluntary job and am attending some church services, but not singing in the choir.

Although I carried out my garden survey this year at the end of March, I have not yet found time to compare the results with those for previous years.

My word for the year, Focus, has proved helpful as I seem to be able to work more efficiently than at some times in the past. There are always distractions like other people’s blogs to read, conversations to join in with on social media and podcasts and videos by blogging/writing friends.

My quiet times continue to include the Bible reading notes I mentioned here.

I also try to keep my contents and other lists up-to-date, although they seem to be of more use to me than to my valued readers.

What about the future of my blogs? Book reviews and paint chip poetry are likely to make up the majority of my posts on Sue’s Trifles. The photo challenge posts on Sue’s words and pictures are likely to continue on Wednesdays with posts on some Saturdays about places visited or events, such as a steam train passing along the local railway line.

Thank you for reading my 959th post on Sues Trifles!

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New Year thoughts

I am putting off writing my next book review post until I have gathered my thoughts about how I intend to spend my time in 2021. So I am procrastinating already!

Many bloggers are looking back over the past year and forward to the next. It can be a useful exercise. On the More than Writers blog, to which I have been a regular contributor for a few years, there was a post about #myoneword.

I chose a word for 2016 and another for 2017. Since then I have not picked a word, but have aimed to use my time productively. (Is spending time on social media productive?)

This year I have been wondering about picking a word again. Listen was a contender. It occurs in the Bible hundreds of times, a good example being in Proverbs 1:5

I prefer Focus, which could include attentive listening and an element of mindfulness. I tend to be thinking about other things, when I am doing routine tasks. It is not particularly healthy. Sometimes it leads to not remembering what I have done or not done! I also have a bad habit of reading, writing or doing puzzles while the news is on the radio. I can knit (easy things) or colour pictures from a beautiful book (Images of Joy by Jacqui Grace) and listen at the same time.

In the hall of residence of my student days a small Christian Union group used to begin every meeting by singing the chorus, Turn your eyes upon Jesus. That is one way of focussing.

Looking back at how my life has changed over recent years is easier with my hand-written journal and my blog. Occasionally I notice that someone has viewed a blog post I had completely forgotten about. I read it myself and find that my life has moved on in some way from that point. For example, I used to update my journal every few days, trying to remember what had happened. Now I write about the previous day as part of my quiet time every morning. It is easier to remember from one day to the next. I had intended to make this more of a spiritual practice, but I find it very difficult to write my feelings down.

Perhaps that is something I should focus on. It isn’t that I am unable to do it, as I found out in a journaling workshop led by Tracy Williamson and Marilyn Baker on Zoom in September.

My regular readers will know that words fascinate me. My three words (2016, 2017 and 2021)  have a progression of shared letters – ReST – TRuST; TrUSt – FocUS.

Have you chosen a word to help keep you on track in 2021?

Whether or not, Happy New Year!

Two books I read in November 2020

This post includes reviews of two e-books, which are also available in other formats.

Songs for a Saviour’s Birth by William Philip

Book cover

I read Songs for a Saviour’s Birth as an ebook, which I received free from the publisher, IVP as a ‘thank you’ for completing a survey. I had great difficulty downloading it and finding an app, which could open it, so was not in the best frame of mind when I began reading it using the EPUB Reader app. It is a short book, with five chapters and a commendation. It is also available as a paperback.

As I continued reading I regained a sense of joy. The book is well-written and brings out the excitement of the story as told by Luke. William Philip is ideally qualified to write about the early chapters of Luke’s gospel – he is a physician turned pastor, whereas Luke was a physician who became an evangelist. The book is written in a way, which encourages believers and explains the story to those, who have not previously had a clear explanation of the story. This is an Advent book I found to be compulsive reading and therefore recommend. (Advent  this year is from Sunday 29 November and to Christmas Eve, 24 December, inclusive.)

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Book cover

The first book I read this year was Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland. When I found another of her books on BorrowBox, I selected it (not having been put off by some strong language in the other book). The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae :Ailsa Rae survived now she needs to learn to live… is set in Edinburgh, a city I visited for a day in 2018. (Coincidentally 2018 was part of the timeline for The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae.)

I could relate to the description of the confusing railway station and some of the other places mentioned. The story of someone, who needed a heart transplant is told as a blog, second-person narrative and email correspondence. There is sadness and humour. The experience of the protagonist seems authentic. (Among my friends and acquaintances there are at least two recipients of vital organs.) I really enjoyed this book, which I read in a few days. It was written before the opt-out legislation for organ donation was introduced in England. In Scotland the law is not changing until 2021. https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/uk-laws/